Friday, November 4, 2016

Me estás matando, Susana

https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Me_est%C3%A1s_matando,_Susana
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Theater actor Eligio (Gael García Bernal) gets drunk from time to time, and cheats on his wife Susana (Verónica Echegui) with the make-up artist. He is not aware that she is unhappy, and is easily caught off-guard when he wakes up one morning with her no longer by his side, leaving her mobile phone but taking all of her clothes. A week or two of online stalking reveals that she has flown to Iowa to attend a writing workshop at Middlebrook University. Selling his car to get enough pocket money, he follows her to the United States. The problem is that she doesn’t really want to be found, which is why it’s her turn to get surprised when he crashes one of her afternoon school functions. Refusing to go back to Mexico, they are forced to spend their time together in an attempt to patch things up, but there are times when broken relationships can no longer be fixed.

I think the trailer did this film a favor by making it appear to be funnier than it actually is. The sad thing is that most of the funny bits are already on that trailer, and what’s left in the movie itself are just the melodrama and the viciously cyclical plot that just recurs for an entire hour or so. We see a couple in a love-hate relationship whose hobby is to provoke one another, throw tantrums, and then patch things up for a few days before repeating the formula again and again and again. The lack of convincing plot and character development made the film really boring and tedious to watch.

The acting is neither laborious nor spectacular, but perhaps the characterization is the main culprit here. The two of them don’t seem to have a lot of redeeming qualities than you can root for. Eligio is just too immature to be one half of a married couple, and his tantrums are more annoying than they are entertaining. After all, this guy is not a seven-year old child, but definitely acts like one. That scene at the motel is his shining moment, because it further cements the hopelessness of his maturity issues.

Susana is probably the one bound to get more sympathy, but her character is simply difficult to read. We can easily observe the search for meaning, a special purpose that will motivate her to wake up every day and go on with her life. But her indecision is disconcerting. She really needed that time off alone to make up her rather conflicted mind, and since Eligio took away that privilege, perhaps he is to blame all along. But still, the ending shows how fucked-up both of them are, to the point where you ask yourself why you even tried to care in the first place.

The trailer markets the film as a comedy of errors, pitting one culture against another. The premise is fun at first but is easily downgraded to a game of stereotypes, leading to a cliché representation of people on both sides of the border. Or at least that’s what it appears to be before the focus abruptly shifts back to the relationship between the couple, which hijacks the story. It does feel weird to be saying that it did so, when it is the central narrative all along, but the plot seemed to be anchored on those two, with the pendulum just swinging back and forth between the predictable culture clash and the dreary love story.

If this movie’s purpose is to dissuade people from getting married, then it's just wasting its time because there really is no need for convincing nowadays. Looking at the other side, maybe we can claim that the film’s thesis is to show everyone how complicated love is, which many of us already know by now. It doesn’t hurt to be reminded of it once in a while, what with the many romantic comedies being produced en masse by the film industry on an annual basis. Nevertheless, the presentation is always the clincher. For Me estás matando, Susana, there clearly is an attempt to present something thought-provoking and fun at the same time, but in the end, it just fell short.


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